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Increasing Innovation: Presentation and Evaluation of the Wordtree Design-by-Analogy Method

[+] Author Affiliations
J. S. Linsey

Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

K. L. Wood, A. B. Markman

University of Texas - Austin, Austin, TX

Paper No. DETC2008-49317, pp. 21-32; 12 pages
  • ASME 2008 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4: 20th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology; Second International Conference on Micro- and Nanosystems
  • Brooklyn, New York, USA, August 3–6, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4328-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3831-5
  • Copyright © 2008 by ASME


Numerous examples of innovation through analogy are found throughout current trade journals, magazines and product offerings. Design-by-analogy is a powerful tool in creative design, but generally relies on unproven, ad-hoc approaches. Although a few notable computational knowledge bases have been created to support analogous design, very few methods provide suitable guidance on how to identify analogies and analogous domains. This paper presents a novel approach, referred to as the WordTree Design-by-Analogy Method, for identifying analogies as part of the ideation process. The WordTree Method derives its effectiveness through a design team’s knowledge and readily available information sources but does not require specialized computational knowledge bases. A controlled experiment and an evaluation of the method with redesign projects illustrate the method’s influence in assisting engineers in design-by-analogy. Unexpected and unique solutions are identified using the method. The experimental results also highlight potential improvements for the method and areas for future research in engineering design theory.

Copyright © 2008 by ASME
Topics: Design , Innovation



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